Favored Canelo Alvarez fights Billy Joe Saunders this Saturday.
The third time WAS the charm.
Canelo Alvarez and Billy Joe Saunders, who meet this Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX, were to have thrown hands a year ago.
The Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to that.
The date shifted to last September, but Saunders squelched that idea, stating he wouldn’t be “ready” in time. After outpointing Martin Murray to retain his WBO super-middleweight belt, Saunders told the Alvarez team to “Get your pens out and sign.”
Nothing modest or subtle about Billy Joe.
Alvarez signed. He also added the WBC super-middleweight to his collection last December by dominating Callum Smith over 12 one-sided rounds. Four inches shorter, and negative plus in reach, Alvarez worked his way under Smith’s wingspan and punched. And punched some more. Smith, considered a live underdog coming into the bout, had no answers. A little over three months later, he stopped overmatched Avni Yildirim in three.
And Saunders? He didn’t look particularly sharp against a shopworn Murray. Or against Marcelo Esteban Coceres in 2019. The last time Saunders looked good-OK, really good-was when he boxed David Lemieux. Saunders danced circles around Lemieux. He used footwork, angles, and speed to leave the pride of Canada bamboozled and beaten. Saunders was in shape (sometimes a problem) on fight night, and it showed. He won nearly every round on the judges’ scorecards, staying out of danger and clipping Lemieux with blows that he (Lemieux) never saw coming. It was a masterclass of boxing.
Problem is, Alvarez (55-1, 37 KOs) is not Lemieux. He has fast hands and feet. He loves to counterpunch and is quite good at it. Southpaw Saunders is crafty. But what Billy Joe will show up his Saturday night? I’m thinking the slick one that drove Lemieux crazy.
Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) was hurt a few weeks ago when Alvarez discussed who he might fight after Saunders.
"I’m a bit disappointed because he’s already planning venues for the Caleb Plant fight," Saunders told IFL.TV. People can say what they want and you know, you got this shot. And people look at… f--- the money. F--- everything. I’m here to win.”
Saunders was also perturbed by the choice of judges for the match.
Alvarez had a ready answer for that.
"Losers always make excuses, and always ahead of time," Alvarez told ESPN’s Deportes a few days ago. “When I fight, I’m ready for any style. If you want to go out there and move, if you want to go out and do whatever you want, I am ready for that.”
I believe him. I also believe that the tricky Saunders will do pretty well at times. Alvarez has had issues with movers during his career. Think Floyd Mayweather and Erislandy Lara. Alvarez was a pup of 23 then – now he’s much more experienced. He’ll need to cut off the ring and work the body. If he takes away Saunders’ legs, he’ll score a knockout. It seems more likely that he’ll wear Saunders down and win by decision.